MUSCATINE, Iowa–When Erik Reader started as President and CEO of the Greater Muscatine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, he knew from the first that he wanted to develop programs to support new and existing small businesses. “It was one of the things I was looking at when I first came to town,” he asserted. After speaking to area business owners and those curious about starting companies of their own, Reader identified several areas of need. With the concerns of area entrepreneurs in mind, the Chamber developed three new resources to help business get started and to continue to succeed year after year.
For those who want to start a business and need an overview of the steps it takes to do so, the Chamber published a brief overview titled “Starting a Business in Muscatine.” The concise publication, available online as well as in hard copy format at the Chamber’s office at 100 West Second Street, Muscatine, details each step of starting a business, from making a business plan, to obtaining needed permits, to finding a store front or office and hiring employees. A compilation of various information the Chamber has collected over the years, Reader hopes the guide, “helps consolidate things down into one useful packet.”
As potential business owners start looking into financing for their new ventures, the Chamber now offers a #MakeItMuscatine Grant. The Chamber has set aside funding for ten $1,000 grants, which new or very young businesses may use to cover the costs of incorporating, branding, web development, and other related professional consultations (such as with an accountant). Reader considers it, “a little token of our appreciation for starting up here,” and believes it will help give prospective business owners the nudge they need to put their dreams into action. The chamber has applications online for download.
Finally, for businesses under two years old looking to purchase new equipment, improve their facilities, expand their marketing, or undertake similar endeavors, the Chamber introduced the #MakeItMuscatine Microloan. Businesses may request up to $10,000 and will have up to three years to repay it, depending on the amount they request and their planned use for it. Reader emphasized that businesses too small or new to qualify for traditional bank loans could reap the benefits of a more manageable short term loan to address startup costs. As with the #MakeIt Muscatine Grant, applicants can find the microloan application online.